Does Pete Rose view everything he does as a test of his manhood? His remarks concerning the Superstars competition (And a Little Child Shall Lead Them, March 11), particularly those aimed at denigrating the baseball hitting efforts of Stan Smith, are nothing more than sour grapes. Surely no one believes that the scoring standards devised by the promoters of Superstars are in any way meant to test proficiency in sport. They are merely means for the participants to gauge their performances against those of fellow competitors. Indeed, the competition is not a test of athletic prowess (whatever that is, if it can be measured), since swimming, which Bob Seagren declared to be the most demanding of sports, was not counted more heavily than, say, golf. Nor can the winner of the overall competition lay claim to the mythical, mystical title of World's Greatest Athlete, as I am sure Kyle Rote Jr. would not. Superstars demonstrated the warmth and humanity of men such as Reggie Jackson, Brian Oldfield and O.J. Simpson. While losers to Rote, they are all equally winners in a larger sense, true superstars.
Kyle Rote Jr. is the epitome of the American sports hero, the one who shuns the almighty buck and is willing to donate a chunk of his $50,000 purse to charity when his yearly salary is only $1,400.
Manhasset Hills, N.Y.
In Mark Mulvoy's article Superdad Skates Up a Storm, March 11, he says that Mark Howe is headed for the top rookie award, but I don't see why Gordie shouldn't be the Rookie of the Year; he is in his first WHA season, isn't he?
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Nice work if you can get it, and Gordie Howe definitely get it! Gordie has defied the laws of nature, pensions, etc., by joining the Houston Aeros and is now the bellwether of the club while at the same time providing a guiding and steadying influence upon the play of his two sons, Mark and Marty. Not everyone 45 or over can find a suitable position in his particular life's work or endeavor these days. It's rough and tough for an older person to maintain the pace of the daily grind or to face a challenge ideally suited to a younger individual. But Gordie Howe is a specialist in his field, which is hockey, and he is proving that fact undeniably. More power and more plays to Gordie.
WILLIAM F. O'BRIEN
AGONY AND ECSTASY
I would like to make a few comments on Jerry Kirshenbaum's article on swimming (The Agony and Drip-Dry Ecstasy, March 11). Rather than saying that the training for competitive swimming is more difficult than that for running, it should be noted that conditioning for either sport is difficult, and it would be unfair to say that athletes in one discipline put in more effort than those in the other.
As opposed to the author's view, I have some facts and theories gathered from many discussions I have had with swimmers when I was in college and further information I have picked up in graduate school: 1) For each step a runner takes, he is landing with full body weight; swimmers are supported by the water and have the use of both arms and legs. 2) I have been told that swimmers are in a position for "maximum cardiac return" (easier for blood to return to the heart). 3) Swimmers are in a medium (water) that cools the body efficiently; the temperatures of the exercising muscles in runners reach 40-43° C., which may have harmful effects on energy metabolism. Perhaps the author should equate the 100-meter swim with the 400-meter run or, better still, the 100-yard swim with the 440-yard run because the times are similar. It's much easier for a swimmer to swim 100 yards with maximum effort twice with 20 minutes rest than it is for a runner to make two 440-yard runs. The difference is not in conditioning.
Oak Ridge, Tenn.
An article lauding a team or individual in SI is like a kiss of death. A cover story: immediate catastrophe. As a devoted Wolfpack fan I must beg SI not to do any stories on the North Carolina State basketball team until the NCAA championships are over.
Coles Phinizy is to be commended for his perceptive essay on ex-Celtic Tom Sanders and his nascent coaching success at Harvard (Sanders of Harvard, March 4). Satch has instituted a novel approach for the Crimson—teamwork—on both ends of the court. His future coaching achievements will quite likely attract national attention in their own right.
Particularly welcome, though, is Phinizy's polemic against the deplorable shortage of athletic facilities for Harvard (and Radcliffe) students. His irreverence toward the utilitarian value of eight million books seems a bit hyperbolic; nevertheless, few of them would dispute the importance of a sound body as well as a sound mind. Hoop-happy Harvardians may take hope, however; Harvard President Derek Bok played (well, watched from the bench) varsity basketball while an undergraduate at Stanford.
HENRY B. FOX
I take great exception to the article on Harvard basketball, as I feel the author (class of '42) did not do his homework properly. Our past has not always been as pictured.
In 1945-46 Harvard had a 19-3 record against excellent competition, was declared New England NCAA champion, went to Madison Square Garden as the New England representative in the NCAA tournament and gave a good account of itself. Two members of that team later played with the Celtics, and several others had the opportunity for NBA tryouts. But the large salaries were not available in those days, and the need for earning a living forced several of us to turn to the business world. But don't count Harvard out completely. We gave it its one moment of basketball glory.
WILLIAM H. McDANIEL
As an avid follower of football, baseball and particularly basketball, I greatly admire the coverage your excellent magazine gives to these sports every week. It is also refreshing to read, every so often, articles on English sports from the different angle with which your correspondents look at them as compared with what we are used to over here.
As a keen Leeds United supporter for the past 15 years I was most interested in Tex Maule's article They're All Right, Jack (Feb. 25). I indeed remember when one felt as if one were in a ghost town watching Leeds games. It is with pride I now see Leeds as one of the finest teams in the world. As intimated in the article, a great deal of the credit for this success must go to Manager Don Revie; he would stand alongside Lombardi, Shula, Auerbach and Wooden in this context, with the exception that he lacks the little bit of luck that even they have needed at some time or other. That is why though Leeds has been England's most consistent team over the past decade it has won only five major championships out of the four per year it competes in, while it has been runner-up or a semifinalist some 15 times.
Hemel Hempstead, England
Having spent last year at the University of Leeds as an exchange student, I was swept up in the enthusiasm and great skill of English soccer. Even though Leeds United fell one game short of the alltime record for games played without a loss, it is truly an exciting and lovable team. Cheers, Tex Maule!
If a football team won the Super Bowl five times in 10 years, would you not devote many pages in many issues to that feat? Of course you would. Why, then, when Richard Petty won the Daytona 500 (or 450) this February for the fifth time in 10 years (he also won it in 1964, 1966, 1971 and 1973), was he afforded a mere paragraph in an otherwise superbly written article (Gasser of a Race at Richard's Place, Feb. 25) centered around the many ways in which the gas shortage affected the Daytona race? Mr. Petty, a four-time Grand National champion, certainly deserves more—much more.
Sure, everyone knows about the energy crisis and that Daytona was no longer a 500 but a 450-mile race. The point is that the race itself was an extremely exciting one, with a hard-fought duel between Richard Petty and Donny Allison, and really deserved more space than the column and a half you gave it. Also, King Richard may have won again, but without the aid of Allison's freak blowout during a yellow flag, you would have needed another title.
ST. PETE'S MALONEY
I enjoyed your story Old Lions Full of Growl (March 4), but your readers might like to know that this past year St. Petersburg's Three-Quarter Century Softball Club lost its oldest player. John Maloney retired at the age of 96. He joined the club when he was 75 and pitched in more than 800 games during his 21 years with the team.
Amateur Softball Association
Surely my letter will be only one of many extolling the virtues of the akita (He Pointed the Way at Westminster, Feb. 25). Historically the akita has chow, Kari and Tosa blood. Akitas were first used for hunting but soon became so valued for their loyalty, strength and courage that they became a national treasure. As time elapsed the akita was used as a fighting dog. It was proclaimed a national monument by the Japanese government in 1931.
Unfortunately, the akita is portrayed as a "furred bomb ready to explode." Only those not familiar with the breed would feel this way. The akita is of even disposition, loyal, proud and easily trained. It has been condemned for its devotion and fierce loyalty to its owners. I feel the akita is the most stately and magnificent dog in the canine world.
NEIL L. SIMSTEIN, M.D.
I have been a happy owner of an akita for the past 2½ years. I am very unhappy that Robert Boyle makes it sound as though this gentle dog is a wolf ready to attack. I have learned through breeders that the akita is gentle with children, obedient if well trained and also a good watchdog. It is a "bomb ready to explode" only if it is aggravated. My dog's grandfather was a prizewinner. At one of its competitions it was constantly aggravated by a dog in the next booth. It sat there calmly for the longest time, until it just couldn't take it any more. Then it attacked the dog and killed it. This proves that the akita does have limited patience, but it can be controlled under cool conditions. I enjoy the breed very much and hope to get another one.
Why you had to devote four pages to a dog show I'll never know. I found your article about as exciting as listening to radio replays of all offensive holding penalties on the 1966 Houston Oilers.
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